Dimensions of State Legitimacy

  • David Beetham
Part of the Issues in Political Theory book series (IPT)


In view of the argument advanced in the first part of the book about how rules of power come to be socially reproduced in a way that reinforces their legitimacy, it is remarkable how comparatively insecure is the legitimacy of many states in the contemporary world. Legitimacy, it seems, is as much the exception as the rule for contemporary states. Many are subject to military dictatorship, originating in a breach of the constitutional rules whose lawlessness is extended into the subsequent practice of government. In others the political order finds only weak support in popular beliefs and values, or there is widespread disagreement about fundamental aspects of it. In yet others there is only limited legitimation through consent. Those who live in countries whose political legitimacy is secure are likely to take it for granted. On a global scale, however, what is striking is the difficulty that contemporary states experience in achieving such a legitimacy, and their rulers in governing in a manner that maintains it.


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Copyright information

© David Beetham 1991

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  • David Beetham

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